Listen to audio interview with Jim about this topic here.
The auto industry is still stonewalling on cooperating with the Obama Administration on regulating greenhouse gases from tailpipes. Earlier this week, President Obama signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its Bush-era refusal to grant California a waiver to impose such regulations. New EPA head Lisa Jackson says she's for it, and the agency will almost certainly endorse the waiver this time around, probably in April or May.
The industry has said many times in the last 30 years that new environmental and safety technology, from airbags to the catalytic converter, would send America's automakers to their graves. True to form, Charles Territo of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said to NPR this week that the California regulations will spell disaster. "At this difficult time for the industry, and for the economy as a whole, what we need is certainty and consistency, not confusion and chaos," he said.
In the New York Times, David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, said the California regulations, if enacted immediately, "would basically kill the industry."
It will undoubtedly be tough for them in some ways, but narrowing their product lines to SUVs and trucks didn't exatly leave them in good health. Business as usual is what got them asking the government for bailouts. I recorded an audio commentary on this situation for Sea Change Radio, and you can find it here.